ARE YOU WORKING? IF SO, ARE YOU ELIGIBLE FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS?
If you are working, according to how the SSA defines work, then you cannot get paid SSDI or SSI benefits. However, work has a very specific meaning under SSA’s rules. Work is defined by the SSA as “substantial gainful activity.”(SGA). A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (after medical work costs) is considered to be working or earning money at the SGA level. Under SSA’s rules, a person who is working at the SGA level cannot be paid SSDI or SSI benefits.
If you cannot work, then you should file an application for Social Security Disability benefits (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In order to receive benefits, you must first file an application. You can do this online at Social Security’s website. Below, please find an explanation as to each type of benefit you can apply for:
SSDI benefits are for those who have worked and can no longer work at any job due to a medical condition. The amount of money you will receive from SSDI benefits every month is based on how much Social Security tax you have paid during your work history. To qualify for SSDI, you must have earned enough “work credits” to qualify. A work credit is an amount of taxable income. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year. The amount of work credits you will need will depend on how old you are when you apply. If you haven’t earned enough work credits for your age at the time you apply, you will only qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits.
SSI is a needs based benefit and it is for those people with little to no income, such as children and the elderly. Anyone who makes more than a certain amount of money per month cannot receive SSI benefits. The SSA counts the income of those in your house, not just your income and assets. If you have a spouse who earns more than $4000 a month, for example, then that income will prevent you from getting SSI benefits. You cannot qualify for SSI benefits, no matter how severe your medical condition, if you do not meet the income and asset rules for SSI.
SUBSTANTIAL GAINFUL ACTIVITY OR “WORK”
The SSA defines SGA work as “doing significant physical or mental activities . . . for pay or profit.” They also state that “significant activities” accomplish a job and have value in the economy. Or, in other words, you are paid to do work.
Work may “work,” even if it is done on a part time basis. Additionally, it may still be substantial work, even if the individual does less, is paid less, or has less responsibility than in previous work. Read here, if you need to learn more information about work skills.
Work activity by an employee is gainful if it is the kind of work usually done for pay, whether for cash or for goods. Activities such as carrying for yourself and house chores are not work. Likewise, unpaid training, hobbies, and going to school are not work. Clubs and social programs are also not considered to be SGA.
CHART DEFINING SGA
Below, please find a chart that defines the monthly amount of money you can earn in any given year before SGA applies. As you can see, there is a difference between those who are blind and those who are not blind. People who are blind can earn more money every month, but still be below SGA.
Also, the SGA amount is your gross earnings per month. This means before taxes are taken out. Many people, for example, assume that their take home pay is what the SSA counts as SGA. Unfortunately, that is not correct. SGA is the full amount you make per month, including taxes or any other withholdings.
WORKING AND APPLYING FOR SSD BENEFITS
Many people think they can work and still be paid benefits. However, this is simply not true. The SSA has a specific amount of money that you can earn on a monthly basis. If you earn over that amount, then you are working SGA. Therefore, you cannot receive SSD benefits. Work makes you unable to file an application and to receive both SSDI and SSI benefits. People who are working and also getting an SSDI check are committing a crime. Social Security benefits are for people who cannot work and are likely to never work again.
If you try to work and you earn under the SGA amount or your work doesn’t last more than a few months, then you can still apply for benefits. Some people try to work despite their severe illness. If you have questions about whether a medical condition is a barrier to work, read here.
Working a few hours a week should not hurt your chances of being paid benefits. However, if you work for a longer period of time, your attorney will need to argue for the judge to apply the rules of an unsuccessful work attempt.
Most people, however, with a mental or physical condition find that they cannot work 40 hours a week or even work on a part time basis. That is why they are filing for benefits. SSDI benefits replace monthly income. Additionally, SSDI benefits come with Medicare benefits. Medicare benefits are a form of health insurance. These benefits are important if you have a severe illness. Medicare benefits start 29 months after your onset date of disability. The 29 months, for example, includes your five month waiting period and a 2 year waiting period.
OUR LAW FIRM CAN HELP YOU WIN YOUR BENEFITS
At our law office, we help our clients apply for SSDI and SSI benefits. Also, we appeal SSA’s denials. If you need to apply for benefits, then you can do so online at Social Security’s website. It doesn’t matter where you live in the country, the above table applies to you.
If you live in Utah, then we have Utah SSDI information here. We also have Nevada benefit information. The same amount of money in the above table defines SGA. This is true even if the cost of living is higher in California than Nevada.
If you have questions about work and your benefits, then contact our office. We will answer your questions for free. Also, we offer a free review of your case. Additionally, we do not charge an attorney fee unless we win your benefits. If we don’t win, you don’t have to pay an attorney fee. If you need SSD benefits or SSI benefits, then contact Cannon Disability Law.
We will help you apply for benefits or appeal an SSA denial. You can contact us by phone or by email. We can often answer your questions about working and benefits over the phone. Give us a call today. Hire us be your legal team. Put our experience to work for you.
IF YOU ARE NO LONGER WORKING, FILE FOR SSD BENEFITS
You do not need to file for Social Security benefits by yourself. You can always call our law firm and we will help you file your application. Also, we can help you fix mistakes. For example, our attorneys and staff can:
- Send you the paperwork you need to become our client
- Help you file your application for SSDI and SSI benefits
- Inform the SSA they should pay you benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Rules
- Request an appeal if you receive an initial denial
- Help you confirm your free SSA doctor exam
- Request a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Prepare you to testify at your ALJ hearing
- Represent you at your hearing and question the expert witnesses
- Read more about job experts here
- Learn more about medical expert testimony here
- Request review of a decision with the Appeals Council
- Request review of an Appeals Council denial in Federal Court
If you file your application for benefits online at Social Security’s website, then you have 6 months to complete the application. Once you submit your application online, the SSA sends you an application summary in the mail. You must sign the summary and mail it back. If you don’t send it back, the SSA will not process your application. Sign it and send it back as soon as you can. Benefits are tied to the date you apply. Therefore, every day you wait to apply is a day you lose benefits.
HIRE OUR EXPERT SSD LEGAL TEAM
If you cannot work due to a severe physical or mental medical condition, then Cannon Disability Law can help you apply for SSD and SSI benefits. Also, we can help you appeal an SSA denial. Additionally, we will represent you in court at your Social Security hearing. Unlike most law firms, we will also help you be a witness in your case. We do this by meeting with you before your hearing and telling you the questions the judge is likely to ask in court.
If necessary, we can appeal your case to the Appeals Council. Likewise, we file appeals in Federal Court. Also, we can represent you where you live. For example, we can represent you if need an attorney in Utah or Nevada. Additionally, we can help you if you live in Idaho, Colorado, or California. You can find out more about California SSDI benefits here. Likewise, Idaho benefit information is here. Our Utah SSD benefits information is here.
Your ability to receive Medicaid and Medicare depends upon whether or not you are successful with your claim. In order to fight the SSA’s denials, you need a lawyer with experience. Hire us. Dianna Cannon has been helping people win benefits for over thirty years. Likewise, Brett Bunkall and Andria Summers also have many years of experience fighting the SSA. We have won over 20,000 SSD and SSI hearings for out clients. You can trust us to do our best for you. We will do everything we can to win your SSD and SSI benefits.